Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rod's Duck Farm News August 2009

Read Your Rod’s Duck Farm News – Tooo Many Form Letter Words August 2009

“Maybe if more people had a duck in their lives, maybe we wouldn’t all be so mad at each other.”
-Joe Mansheim

Things have been busy at the Duck Farm since the January Duck Farm News. The above quote of Joe Mansheim came to the attention of the Duck farm editorial staff from the Oklahoma Field Correspondent, Dave Renfro’s Mother. She discovered an article and video about Joe Mansheim and his pet duck, Frank. They drive a flat-bed truck around Minnesota delivering construction supplies. Joe drives; Frank rides shotgun. If you want to see the video, you can use an old-timey search engine such as “Google” and search for JOE MANSHEIM DUCK VIDEO. It will be first on the list. If you are a little bit braver and willing to experiment, try the newer search engine at DuckDuckGo.com. (You would still have to search for JOE MANSHEIM DUCK VIDEO.)

Down is Up
Ducks have feathers. According to The Free Dictionary online, feathers are “the light horny waterproof structure forming the external covering of birds.” Wikipedia says the word “down” comes from an old Norse word, “dunn” (meaning the opposite of up.) The soft feathers under the coarser exterior feathers are called “down.” Down is an internationally traded commodity. When the demand for down exceeds supply, the price of down is up.

The focus on opposites is, in Chinese Taoist philosophy, the yin and the yang …. or as Issac Newton would say, “for every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction.” This page is written in black and white. If it were all white or all black, reading would be difficult. Contrast provides a kind of meaning that may have nothing to do with the contrast. This page has very little to do with black and white or even percentages of black and white. I like the word “down” because it is such a great example of a new world order political word ….. it can mean almost anything! Like, for instance, if you are down and out, don’t swallow it down, write it down!
Hero and heroine are that way …. either they are male and female soldiers or else a kind of sandwich and a form of refined opium.

Speaking of swallowing things down, I have gone on strike! I’m having a TAX revolt! Cutting taxes and reforming health care at the same time. Thousands have joined the effort to reduce the weight of social and government pressures.
The movement is called “That’s nuff!”
Perhaps you have been in your living room, bombarded with advertisements saying you NEED pizza, fried chicken, burritos, pancakes, cheese burgers AND reformed health care. Maybe you have experienced the dialog:
“What do you wanna do?”
“I dunno. What do you wanna do?”
“I dunno. Hey! Lets go get a pizza!”
Surely something nagged at your conscious saying, “Going out for pizza is NOT doing something! Taking care of the ducks – that’s doing something!”

HINT: What THEY want is for you to pay MORE TAXES. Taxes on the food. Taxes on the employees adding “fries with that.” Real estate tax on the franchises selling culinary horrors. Taxes on the medical care resulting from being overweight or from eating food prepared by folks with miscellaneous diseases. Taxes on the money you have to earn in order to pay taxes.

There’s a solution. Join “That’s nuff!” As a member of That’s nuff!, you will enjoy MRE rations (Meals Ready to Eat), better health, and more free time to enjoy things that are really meaningful to you.
Membership is about $5. For five dollars (at most grocery stores) you will receive a large round cardboard tube of oatmeal and a small round container (preferably plastic) of snuff. Dump out the snuff and wash the container about 5 times. Fill the snuff “tin” with oatmeal. Anytime you feel hungry, just open yore tin and take you a dip. Form the dip into a “cud” or chew it. Oatmeal does not have to be cooked – you can swoller yore dip. That’s the MRE – plain old dry oatmeal. You will find that you never actually get hungry.

What happens is that you find yourself craving your addiction to a SOCIAL EATING REGIMINE. This is where the true That’s nuff! activist must fight the hardest. Cultist slogans of the movement are: “Is there anything I’d rather do than prepare meals and wash dishes?” “How much tax do I want to pay for breakfast?” “Do I really want to lay around doing nothing because I had a stroke?”

Another benefit to the That’s nuff! lifestyle is that you get to be a heavy drinker! You know how they say you should drink about 8 cups of water a day? You might need a little more eating dry oatmeal. Also, you should probably take a quality daily vitamin supplement to complement the MRE.

There are NO WATCHDOGS! If you decide to engage in social-eating from time to time, that’s OK. The only penalty is the taxman, the cardiologist, and your aching knees and feet.

Join That’s nuff! You’ll be glad you did.

With the extra money I saved as a That’s nuff! member, I went to Movies:
IMAX – “Migrations” more about migratory butterflies than ducks – so many butterflies that the weight of the butterflies breaks tree limbs!
“Gran Torino” – Clint Eastwood explores social change in a multicultural neighborhood (language & violence typical of Eastwood movies)
“UP” – Pixar cartoon/movie (animated comedy adventure) version of Gran Torino
“The Proposal” – Sandra Bullock goes to Alaska
“G-Force” – cartoon/movie (animated comedy adventure) about the problem of controlling nanobots
“He’s Just Not That Into You” – Jennifer Aniston still has problems dating
“The Soloist” - maybe it is OK for people to be the way they are? Schizophrenic guy just wants to play his violin ….
“Food Inc” - corporate holding companies own and control the food supply … for whose benefit?
“Black Hawk Down” I saw that on TV for the first time a few days ago. Dave Renfro is a former Army helicopter maintenance guy that served in Somalia among other places. He mostly talks about climbing Mt Kilamanjaro while he was on leave and how the desert came alive at night with creepy-crawlies and how another soldier bested him at unicycle riding. I asked him if he was one of the guys portrayed in the movie. He said, “No. Actually, I had been in-country for quite a while and was on 2-week (rest & recuperation) R&R at the time. When I got back I did have to repair bucket-sized holes in a helicopter where an RPG round went through instead of exploding. The movie, at least in my estimation, did a particularly good job of capturing what it feels like to drive down the streets of Mogadishu in Somalia.”

Things are changing in Africa. (They still need DDT to kill some mosquitoes!) There are still nearly a million people a year dying from malaria but folks are looking to the future and developing infrastructure. Since nobody is too concerned about cell-phone towers over there, install ‘em while you can is the rule. The Chinese are drilling oil wells there. One day, Africa will suddenly blossom.

Blossoms in Africa bring up the topic of Africanized honey bees. They are attracted by CO2 …. the air you exhale. People and animals that die from killer bees typically die from asphyxiation as the bees enter the mouth and nasal cavities and cause swelling that restricts airflow. (heh, heh, heh ... those wanting to reduce their “carbon footprint” and attractiveness to killer bees only need to quit breathing) On the other hand, CO2 from a fire extinguisher is cold and windy. Bees and wasps do not like being sprayed by CO2 fire extinguishers. They flee from the CO2 cloud. It is reported that ½ cup liquid soap to a gallon of water is effective for killing bees (in instances where livestock is covered with bees, for example).
Adam and Eric both have tales of insect extermination using BB guns. Adam used to practice by shooting dragonflies at a nearby pond. Adam laments, “But I was never able to hit a house fly. Their movements are too random!”
Eric had occasional search and destroy missions involving wasps and spiders. He said, “A CO2 pistol works well on wasps at 2 feet. You don’t use a BB. You just shoot air. The shock wave gets them. At 3 feet, you don’t kill them but it blows their wings off and renders them less of a threat. For spiders, use a spring loaded gun that shoots the little plastic pellets. You can kill spiders from across the room, 10 or 15 feet. Not always on the first shot but definitely within a few shots.”
I got an email from a retired missionary to equatorial Africa that commented, “A visitor asked why I would have a loaded gun in my house. Are you afraid that some evil person is going to break in? ‘No, but then, I’m not afraid the house is going to burn down either. Still, I have fire extinguishers and they are loaded. I have a car in the garage and it is full of gas.’”

I think maybe Africa is a little like Afghanistan. Warfare is just a way of life that has been built into the culture over thousands of years. “Foreigners” are simply invaders that are killed for sport at one’s leisure. The rest of the time is for growing poppies. Afghan officials wiped out 10% of the poppy fields, making “examples” of selected farmers and raising the price of heroine 10%. I guess the 10% that got wiped out failed to pay their insurance premiums.
Niece Karen’s unit plans to go to Afghanistan. Maybe she’ll see her cousin Brandon.
Former Mexican President Vicente says the marijuana traffic into the United States is a “joint problem”…. like arthritis maybe?
Leta Mae is glad to have her car back in operation. It developed a crack in one of the cylinder heads. It turned out to be cheaper to get a low-mileage engine from a salvage yard installed than to get the cracked head replaced.

I was amused recently by comments to a TV question, “What is Fascism?” The broadcasted answers were synonyms of the word “Terrorists”. My 1940’s Encyclopedia explains that Fascism is simply, “The belief that society functions better when the masses are ruled by an elite few.”
Italian dictator Mussolini credited Vilfredo Pareto (a logistics expert with the Italian railroad who discovered that statistics could be used to solve social problems) as being the “Father of Fascist Thought”. Mussolini said that Fascism could be defined variously but that the primary symbol of Fascism is the “bureaucratization of the economic activities of the nation.”

Fortunately, duck farmers are not burdened with the prospect of being part of the elite few. All the news these days has to do with folks thinking they are supposed to be part of the elite few. Right now the emphasis is on union busting. The labor unions are pretty well taken care of but the heavy duty unions are still hard to beat. The American Medical Association and the insurance companies are united and very powerful. Whoever wins the battle, I’ll still be a duck farmer!

Some celebrate Woodstock, held on August 15,16,17, and 18 in 1969 with about 400,000 of America’s affluent young white folks. There were three deaths. One from being run over by a tractor, one from a heroine overdose, and one from a ruptured appendix. At the same time, there were 514,000 other young Americans in Vietnam. 109 of them died during the Woodstock festival, many at the Battle of Heip Duc. (a number of places had “Duc” as part of their name but I have never found a translation for the word …. except for the French “duc” which is NOT pronounced “duck” … French forces spent a lot of time in Vietnam before American involvement. Maybe all the Duc places are French?) I was in boot camp at Ft. Polk’s “Tigerland” at the time (I was induckted on July 22, 1969). There was a lot of duck stuff in Vietnam. You could be a sitting duck or, in the villages, buy a duck sandwich. Some marshy areas had duck ponds formed by bombs. There were duck down sleeping bags or sometimes when the fireworks were exceptional, you might duck down. In 1967, there was a 19 day battle at Dak To (pronounced by many as “duck toe”) from November 3 to November 22. Some folks were highly duckorated. By the time I got there, they were beginning the reducktion in forces.

January 26-30, 2009 was an unusual time. I had not yet finished cleaning up fallen trees from the excessive autumn wind and rains when along came one of those “ice-storm-of-the-century” events. Freezing rain covered everything. The weight of the ice on the power lines was too much for many of the support poles. Broken power lines and power poles resulted in no electricity or phone service for a week. All the schools and many of the businesses were closed. So many tree limbs were breaking, it sounded like machine gun fire at times. Northwest Arkansas was a disaster area. For me, it worked out well. School had just begun and a mastoidectomy left me needing the week to recuperate. Eric had finally begun to receive unemployment benefits. Sadly the Arkansas unemployment folks took the opportunity to cancel his unemployment compensation because he did not apply for jobs that week (government insurance is opportunistic?). When you count the folks like Eric who are unemployed and ignored by the system, unemployment in the US is about 17%. Of course, during the 2008 elections both political parties were warning of the coming problem – jobs would be leaving and not coming back. There is a good side to unemployment:
No job, no income, NO INCOME TAXES!!!!!! Woo-Hoo!!!! … more points for the That’s nuff! movement.

When school resumed, the machine shop class had a “Free for the Month of February – Chainsaw, Hatchets, and Axes Sharpened” for area residents (the local sharpening shops had a 6-week backlog). We sharpened over 700 items. I have spent much of the summer break clearing fallen branches from the Duck Farm. The Duck Farm purchased new forestry equipment: chain saw sharpening machine, chopping ax, handle for a felling ax, rake, and hedge clippers.

Ducks have contributed to the economy, judging from the influx of duckological artifacts. I received a marvelous variety of delightful ducks – some for my birthday, some for father’s day, some just-out-of-the-clear-blue-sky:
Duck Knife, Wood Ducks with Brass Wings, Plush Bunny/Duck, and Duck card from Adam & Amanda, Chainsaw Duck Graphic from Tom Freking, Duck Cartoon – Mother Goose & Grim’s Fairy Tales from James Allen, Duck brand clear packaging tape from Mark Evans, Key Ring Duck that lights and Quacks from Becky Echols, ½ inch tall Duck Miniature from Jim Reese, Duck Spice Rack, Wooden Swan, Tweetie Bird cup, Beanie Baby Duck and Plush Easter Duck from Leta Mae, Duck Drinking Glass from Cheryl Evans, Duck Books – “Duck Soup” and “Duck at the Door” by Jackie Urbanovic from Karen & Bill, Down-hill Racer (ski duck) and a distinguished looking Rustic Duck with a Bow Tie from Elbert & Syble Baker, photo of rubber “Ducks in a Row”, guarding the upper perimeter of an office cubicle from Robert Megee
I ordered some duck stuff from OrientalTrading.com: Duck Hats, Quackers, and paper plates.

Ducks in the News
Jimi Harris notes H5N1 bird flu in a wild duck this year, 11 in European geese last year.
Email from my Mother features an eagle trying to pluck a duck from a lake. The duck keeps diving under water to avoid capture …. a submarine duck?
Chlorox had a rubber duck cleaning commercial … Bank of America has a rubber duck in their commercial
Steve Renfro sent info about a Duck Press – culinary device for pressing juices from a duck.
Jim Heinrich brought an advertisement for fowl knick-knacks – the Lucy Goosie collection.
Episode of Hogan’s heroes featured a German bar decorated with wicker baskets woven to form duck baskets.
Jim Reese notes a tune, “One White Duck on the Wall” by Jethro Tull.
New “Peter and the Wolf” show includes a duck …. One of the Florida keys is: Duck Key
1931 Prohibition Coast Guard Cutter “Black Duck” attacks rum-runner Artemis.
July 19, 2007 lady robbed a library in Ft. Smith, AR …. money went in a “bright yellow bag with a 3-D duck bill”
Ed Gee observed the Boston Legal episode featuring a duck with an anxiety disorder having a coronary.
(Later Ed had a heart attack of his own. He got two stints. He would have needed a bypass on another artery but he had mysteriously grown a bypassing artery. He said, “Wow! God gave me a free bypass!)
Pastor Wolf saved the April 24, 2009 USA Today pg 6A & 7A Aflac advertisement/article about migratory flyways of ducks
1977 “Close Encounters of a Third Kind” ……ducks are freed from a fenced area.
Robert Megee directed me to GameVance (site with free online video games such as Duck Hunt)
Steve Whitney, Eli Whitney descendant, discovered a print ad about health care featuring the Aflac Duck. He makes the world a brighter place with custom chrome plating at Whitworx. Their restroom features duck hand towels.
Marion Smallwood’s daughter bought a new place in Oklahoma …. with a pond full of ducks!
PBS TV– animated educational show “Word World” features word play for kids. Words are morphed into the shapes they represent. (One of the main characters is a duck, made from the letters D-U-C-K which are morphed into the shape of a duck)

I have been doing some basic maintenance as well … changing oil in the vehicles …. I even did a lube job on our “Guaranteed for 25 years” Circulation Fan. It may be nearing its 25 years. I take it apart every couple years for cleaning and oiling. So far, so good!
Also I patched the roof. Now, when it rains, a lot of the rain stays outside!

Dennis Wargo and I started developing a CNC Level I Certification program. Eric, Leta Mae, and I finished it this summer. It covers the basic steps necessary to use a computerized milling machine. There are 28 illustrated Units in the form of hands-on checklists.

Another computerized activity we participated in is located at the Northwest Arkansas Mall – a roller coaster simulator. After paying four dollars, you hop into a box about the size of a 1973 Chevy Van. Inside the box are 12 seats with seat belts. Instead of a windshield, there is a video screen. The door closes and you find yourself in total darkness until the video screen comes on to display a cartoon – you are about to embark on an animated adventure. I’m not sure whether the cartoon became real or if maybe I became a cartoon character. The box I was sitting in tossed and turned, pitched and vibrated. Hydraulic cylinders controlled by a computer synchronized the movements with the video. According to the video, I had just flown off a bluff. I accidentally swallered my oatmeal and had to get another dip! At some point, I realized that I was a cartoon character and would live through anything – I was invincible! Now that I’m out-of-the-box, it’s like I’ve been exposed to kryptonite or something. My super-powers are gone.

Eric went on a real adventure. It turns out that Bayou La Batre, Alabama (home of Forrest Gump’s buddy, Bubba) is a real place near Mobile. He spent a weekend driving down there to visit friends and, I suppose, sample the crawdad gumbo.
After he returned and while we were at the mall he discovered a very excellent pair of tweezers. He provided me with a pair. I have removed a variety of pokey-stickey thingies from my flesh. Good tweezers are a good thing!
My Mother gave Eric a fig tree for his birthday. He has been taking care of it – watering it and keeping the weeds down. The fig tree still doesn’t have enough leaves to cover his birthday suit.
Eric helped replace the circuit breaker box and breakers at my Mother’s house. Step-Sister Connie and her grand-daughter Nicole went to the Gainey reunion in Memphis by way of Clarksville the circuit breakers chose that time to quit – oh well!
He has a new Fender Stratocaster guitar that he lets me mess with. On the 4th of July I straightened the neck, filed the frets, and adjusted the nut and string height. Also I realized the meaning of the Bible verse, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord” (it’s because nobody else wants to hear it!!!) Now I have a tiny battery operated “amplifier” that plugs into the guitar and plays through an earphone jack. I can play as loud as I want and nobody else has to hear the same mistakes being endlessly repeated. I play “Mr. Bojangles”…. he jumped so high then he lightly touched DOWN?

Adam spends his time being a family man. He mows the lawn and fixes things around his place. Adam still makes his living fixing plastic injection molds. Right at the moment, he has shingles – an adult ailment that involves dormant childhood chicken pox viruses marching around one’s torso to form a blistery belt. He is looking forward to the day it quits burning.

This year I planted onions, turnips, radishes, tomatoes, bell peppers, rutabagas, garlics, potatoes. The garlics, tomatoes, and bell peppers are doing best. I took some cuttings from a rose bush and treated them with rooting hormone. Then I stuck them in some well-composted soil and covered them with a wide-mouthed gallon jug “greenhouse”. The gallon jug is now removed and they seem to have taken root.

With all this activity, summer is over and I’m all out of whirly-gig ducks!
Oh!!!! The Duck Farm has a new phone …. (479) 304 - 1648

Just remember:
If people spent more time thinking about ducks,
They’d spend less time thinking about other things.